Eating their words: hospitals take on food critics

Top hospital chefs serve it up to critics at awards ceremony

MMMM, CHOCOLATE: Parween Ramsahy, winner of the IHHC Brightest Star Award, works her magic at Marist Lodge in Perth.

MMMM, CHOCOLATE: Parween Ramsahy, winner of the IHHC Brightest Star Award, works her magic at Marist Lodge in Perth.


Kitchen maestros raise the bar on quality, putting paid to claims of dull, tasteless food.


Hospital patients are as diverse as their reasons for admission, and catering to both their medical needs and their palates can be a challenging task.

Time and again, hospital food is attacked by critics as bland and unappetising.

But top chefs and healthcare workers are raising the bar on food service in hospital, with a conference in Melbourne last month shining a spotlight on excellence and dedication in the sector.

Institute of Hospitality in HealthCare board member Troy Litzow said that while food quality standards in some health and aged care centres deserved attention, the vast majority of centres and workers were delivering high-quality outcomes for patients.

"The best way to lift the bar is to show what's happening at some amazing facilities and by people doing incredible work," said Mr Litzow, chairman of the institute's Queensland/NSW branch.

Epworth Richmond hospital in Melbourne was awarded IHHC Project of the Year, with its $8 million kitchen offering patients room service and a dedicated dietitian to ensure the highest standard of meals.

The not-for-profit hospital operates the largest room service kitchen in a healthcare setting in the eastern hemisphere, producing more than 3000 meals a day for 700 overnight patient beds.

With 32 operating rooms, it has a brigade of more than 30 qualified chefs, including a pastry chef who makes desserts and pastries in-house and a saucier chef who makes all stocks and sauces fresh daily.

The room service model is delivered through a hybrid room service system whereby all the patients have been provided food by either direct meal ordering, menu monitor assistance, call centre service and ward-based production ordering.

It recently trialled 24-hour meal dining for patients and is working to introduce automated meal trolleys for patient meal transport.

The hospital was also commended for reducing food costs and waste, and achieving the highest standard for infection control.

Melbourne's Sarah Fryer of Japara Millward Health Care, in Doncaster East, received the IHHC Values in Action Customer Service Award.

She also took home the institute's top award, the Rosemary Anne Pirie Award for Excellence, which she shared with the Epworth Richmond room service project.

Ms Fryer's creative flair in the Japara Millward kitchen includes cakes and other delicacies for special events and theme days.

The kitchen delivers more than 450 meals a day. Ms Fryer personally checks meal service in each of the residential units to ensure quality and service delivery are consistent and meeting the residents' needs.

Chef Parween Ramsahye was awarded the IHHC's Brightest Star Award for her work at Marist Lodge, in Belmont, WA Praised for her five-star cooking ability she was acknowledged for her high performance and commitment to delivering quality meals for patients.

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